Why Everyone Should Celebrate World Teachers Day

Why Everyone Should Celebrate World Teachers Day

Today, October 5th , is World Teachers Day (WTD).

What exactly is WTD?  In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed WTD a global event.  The day was chosen to commemorate the special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris concerning the Status of Teachers in 1966.

WTD has historically served as a day devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the lives of educators around the world.  The day also provides global citizens a special opportunity to address the issues pertaining to teachers across the world.

This year’s WTD marks the 50th anniversary of the original 1966 conference. It is also the first WTD to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community one year ago.

In honor of this year’s WTD theme, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status,” the team here at Voki would like to take an opportunity to bring awareness to one important issue affecting the teaching community worldwide; namely, the concept of teacher retention and induction.

According to a 2003 study by Ingersoll & Perda, between 40% and 50% of new teachers are estimated to leave within the first five years of entry into teaching.

What’s more is that according to UNESCO, by 2030, an estimated 3.2 million more teachers will be required to achieve universal primary education and 5.1 million more in order to achieve universal lower secondary education.

This revolving door policy is often the result of insufficient resources, support and guidance for teachers as they begin their journey as an educator.

The process of acclimating teachers with their new job is known as “Induction” and the process has grown in recent years from relative obscurity to an important ideology within educational reform.

WTD encourages spreading awareness. We would like to have this piece initiate a dialogue and raise awareness. Please be sure to comment, share, like and or tweet this article with the hashtag #WorldTeachersDay to do your part in building a brighter future where education is a right not just a privilege…

About Voki:

Voki is free educational software that allows teachers to create awesome, customizable speaking avatars to better enhance learning and student engagement. Teachers record their voice and an animated talking avatar is exported.  A Voki can be used for debates, presentations, lessons, speeches, language studies and much, much more. Our character library includes cartoons, pets, historical figures, and cultural figures, just to name a few.

Our basic product is completely FREE because we believe all teachers deserve a chance to enhance their classroom no matter what their budget is. Voki is used in thousands of classes around the globe and is supported in over thirty languages.

Voki is truly a global tool made for educators by educators. Try it out for free today at www.voki.com.

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About the Author:

Michael Cassidy is the Product Manager of Voki. He is a digital marketer by background but also dedicates his time as an educator, philanthropist, coach, mentor and anti- bullying crusader. His book “The Skinny on Bullying, the Legend of Gretchen” is used around the world to help teach young students how to cope with bullying in a digital age.

External Resources:

Beginning Teacher Induction: What the Data Tell Us: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/kappan_ingersoll.h31.html

World Teacher Day (Official Site):

https://www.worldteachersday.org/map/

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The Benefits of Hooks

The Benefits of Hooks

How many of you have found yourself in this situation: it is Saturday night and you are watching TV.  All of a sudden, this intriguing movie trailer comes scrolling across your screen.  It is a teaser about this amazing movie coming out this summer.  You are captivated and memorized.  You have to find out as much as you can about this movie that has captured your attention.  You are hooked, line and sinker.  You will be buying tickets online to see that movie as soon as they are available.  Effective classroom hooks are the same in regards to exciting movie trailers.  A great hook gives students a preview of what an amazing lesson is getting ready to be taught and learned. It can make the difference between the best lesson ever and the worst.

Student engagement during lessons is an area in education that teachers are battling on a daily basis.  Dorit Sasson, author of “7 Ways to Start a Great Lesson”, emphasizes that “the most important part of the lesson occurs during the first five minutes.” What is the trick to engaging students? According to “Shooting for Success!  Madeline Hunter Lesson Cycle”, written by the creator of the “anticipatory set” or “hook”, “the hook should excite students about the subject matter.” Hook activities are short introductions at the beginning of a lesson or even a project.  A hook can be a song, rap, dance, game, acting skit, art activity or even a technology-integrated activity that is directly related to the lesson’s topic. Ms. Hunter also states that the hook should “grab the students not focused upon learning. By having an activity related to what will be learned, it shifts their attention to the learning process. Anticipatory set can also establish a readiness or anticipation for what is to follow. For the “hook” to do so, it must pique students’ interest. Otherwise it might do the opposite and turn students off to the topic.”

I have talked about what hooks are and what purpose they serve during a lesson.  Now let’s talk about the benefits of hooks.  Hooks provide engagement, excitement and a gateway into the lesson’s objective that can prepare and motivate students to learn the content being taught.  Students can focus on creating more productive work and hooks make the learning environment fun right from the start.  These activities can tap into the multiple intelligence approach to learning simply by allowing teachers to be creative with the type of hooks used to kick off the lesson. For example, in Using Hook Stations to Engage Students in a Lesson, Hillary Mills, a 7th grade Science-Geology teacher, uses hook stations to kick off her geology/biology lesson.  The stations are set up just like small group learning stations but incorporated at the beginning of the lesson.  Each of the stations incorporates different hands on activities, with the students acting as geologists studying fossils in each case.

Before I became the Voki Content Development Manager at Oddcast, I was a classroom teacher for twenty years with a Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  When I reflect on the years I taught in the classroom, the lessons that resulted in the best student engagement were always the ones that kicked off with an awesome hook.  I would always use different style hooks that would touch on the variety of learning styles in my class to meet all of their learning needs.  Of course I was passionate about integrating technology as much as possible into my lessons!  I really wish I had the opportunity to use Voki Speaking Characters as hooks when I taught. It would have been one of the top software integration tools incorporated into my lessons. I truly believe Voki Hooks capture and engage the 21st Century learner.  There are a variety of ways to use these speaking characters and Voki Hooks are just one way.  The Voki Hook activities guided by the Voki speaking characters provide top level engagement at the beginning of lessons. There are over 250 speaking characters to choose from and some fit perfectly into themed units of study. There are also hooks created to celebrate special days of the year like Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and National Pencil Day!  Here are some examples of exemplary Voki Hooks—feel free to incorporate them into your classroom lessons:

March Madness Multiplication

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=0eb178c5581f651876fadae5a8980899

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=57d2108c6efd565d5bd6b27e4c7e747a

Phases of the Moon

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=494ad0d24e15c7da81c7ea265c7f4cb4

Pencil Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=29ec8066dea8748449b852688c46ee5a

Voki also has a product called Voki Teach.  Voki Teach is a library of Common-Core aligned lessons, hooks, and tech project activities in the areas of ELA, Math, and Social Studies. Science and Foreign Languages are coming soon.  Learn more here: http://www.voki.com/teach/home

 

the goldfish and the hook

 

 

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Christina Bazemore is the Content Development Manager at Oddcast.  She was an elementary, high school, technology lab teacher and soccer coach for twenty years.  She received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern University and her Master’s Degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  She is fulfilling her lifelong dream of working and living in New York City.  She has one son, Andy and a dog named Shadow!   Christina is a big Georgia Bulldog football fan!

Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier

Voki Teach: Making Lesson Planning Easier

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It’s Sunday, but instead of being out and about, you’re perched over your screen opening new tab after new tab. You’re hoping that you’ll land on the site you’ve been looking for, and that your endless hours of research will prove fruitful. But as the clock hands fly in their circular orbit, the only answer you’ve arrived at is, “this is going nowhere.”

For a teacher, weekend lesson planning can quickly replace #SundayFunday with #teacherproblems. Hunting for the right activities to fill your curriculum likely includes a fact-checking process where too many marks are missed: standards aren’t met, technology isn’t integrated, methods are out of line with your teaching style.

But before you peg yourself as a lead-less investigative journalist, we have something that might just solve the problem. Our New Voki Teach Library hosts lessons, hooks, and tech projects all in one spot on voki.com. Voki Teach not only eliminates the blind search in the thicket of the World Wide Web, it allows you to specify what grade and subject area you are interested in. To make your selection process even easier, all of our content is rated by fellow teachers so you can curate the material that is liked by your peers.

Think about your potential school day using Voki Teach. Say it’s National Grammar Day. You can kick off your Language Arts lesson using the National Grammar Day hook and have your students create grammar superheroes that wield special powers and rescue sentence errors (our Voki avatar Fragment Eliminator and Comma Man will show you how it’s done). Having engaged your students with this activity, you can then transition into the other objectives you have prepared for the class.

Fourth period bell rings. Some students are cowering at the thought of learning new math techniques. Our Voki Teach Math lessons incorporate games into the lesson, so multiplying is not so meticulous.

Science time. Learning the states of matter can be confusing. How does a liquid transform into a gas again? Our Voki Teach tech project outlines how a teacher should demonstrate the different properties of matter, and prompts the student to recall what he knows by designing a Voki avatar at the end of the lesson that reiterates the material.

The Voki experience is everything but dull. Research shows that technology integration in your classroom boosts student performance, and talking avatars are proven to engage all types of learners across age groups. Voki activities get students hands-on with their work, customizing their own avatars to deliver the knowledge they’ve obtained.

Wouldn’t you rather hear a lesson from an avatar? Or better yet, have one give your answer?

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Catherine Alvino is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Oddcast. She holds a BA in English Literature and a MBA with a concentration in Marketing. She loves to write and is proud to work for a company that adds value to learning.

Voki Teach: An Engaging Way to Teach Common Core

Voki Teach: An Engaging Way to Teach Common Core

 

Hello Voki Users!

I am practically bursting at the seams with excitement. Why? You ask.

Well, Voki.com has just released its newest product— drum roll please….

 

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Voki Teach

Voki Teach is a Common Core aligned, ready-to-teach curriculum, designed by teachers for teachers! 

Let’s face it, as a teacher you spend hours on the internet searching for content, followed by hours crafting your lesson plans and worksheets, followed by hours of wondering if your lessons are Common Core aligned. By the time you step in front of your students to teach, you are exhausted and drained.

We wanted to support teachers and provide students with the chance to engage with rigorous content in a positive, engaging, and meaningful way. And so, Voki Teach was born!

 

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Why Students Will Love It

Voki Teach is an academic experience. This experience allows students to interact with characters similar to the ones they admire on TV, but with a slight scholastic twist. In the classroom, the characters act as educators, mentors, and experts, taking students on scientific, literary, and analytical adventures.

 

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Why Teachers Will Love It

Engaging Common Core aligned content in ready -to-teach form is hard to come by. Voki Teach provides teachers with common core aligned lessons crafted by certified teachers. With Voki Teach, teachers will spend more time facilitating learning and less time preparing materials.

vt designed by teachers

 

Here’s How We Did It

Our team of teachers, certified in Literacy, ESL, General Education, and Special Education, studied the Core Knowledge curriculum and molded lessons that they believed would benefit their own students. By infusing instructional best practices, they were able to generate lessons that maximize engagement and foster effective teaching.grades lessons

 

Right now, we have two domains available for kindergarten through second grade. Our team of teachers is continuing to craft engaging lesson plans and presentations. Our goal is to provide teachers with a variety of themes and topics to choose from in grades K through 6th.

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There’s even more  good news! For a limited time, Voki Teach is available for free when you purchase Voki Presenter, or if you already have Voki Presenter!  Now is certainly the time to sign up for presenter if you haven’t already!

Click here to see a Voki Teach Lesson!

Let Us Know What You Think!

We would love to get your feedback! Please take some time to check out Voki Teach and please do not hesitate to share some of your suggestions.

Happy Teaching!

Until Next Time,

Heather 

HeatherBio: Heather is the Community Manager at Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students! 

 

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

teacher easter basket

The Easter Bunny hasn’t forgotten about the teachers or Blended Learning!    He (or she, for that matter) has delivered  a list of online interactive games (and a read aloud) for you to use!

Not only that!  She (or he) has included ways to use these games and activities as teachable moments and classroom culture builders!

Happy Gamification! And Easter!

Find the Easter Eggs

Capture

Teach your students how to work together by supporting one another during this game.

  • What do we do if our classmate makes a mistake?
  • Why is it important to wait our turn?
  • If we lose the game how should we react?

This is a great way to strengthen your classroom culture with games!

http://www.softschools.com/games/puzzle_games/easter_egg_hunt/

Easter Egg Designer

eastereggdesigner

Get your students’ creative juices flowing.  This activity is great for students who get frustrated with drawing. This activity allows for creativity by just clicking, dragging and dropping!

  • Let your students design their own Easter eggs in pairs (to practice  taking turns)
  •  On the smartboard to make a whole class created Easter egg
  • Or individually (if you have enough screens in the  classroom)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggdesigner/

 Easter Egg Candy crush

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Most of your students all probably know the game “Candy Crush”  Use their previous knowledge of this game to build excitement in the classroom. Have them practice teamwork by splitting the class into two groups  and helping them come up with systems to make group decisions.  Then let them compete against each other. Talk about how the competition played out. What did they do well? What could they do better next time?

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggs/

 Dye Easter Eggs in the Classroom!

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Teach your students how to make  Easter eggs and an Easter basket – virtually!!

Some of your students may not get a chance to dye eggs this Easter. This activity allows your students to engage in this activity without all the mess. Have your students take turns. You could even turn this into a writing activity and have your students write a “How – To”  make Easter Eggs writing piece!

(*IMPORTANT NOTE: Remind them not to boil water/ go near the           stove without an adult!)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/easterbasketmaker/

“Happy Easter, Curious George”  Read Aloud  

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Pop in some think aloud questions/comments, and some turn and talks to get your students thinking during this read aloud. At the end of the read aloud, do a whole class conversation (or grand conversation) about the book to assess your students’ listening comprehension and to observe their level of critical thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ATdGIp4V-s

I– I mean, “The Easter Bunny”, hopes you enjoy your basket!

Until next time,

 Heather 

HeatherBio: Heather is the Community Manager at Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students! 

Giveaways and Resource Goodies!

Giveaways and Resource Goodies!

GIVEAWAYS AND RESOURCE GOODIES

Our very own ambassador, Vipula Sharma, has created an extensive spread of all things Voki! She will also be giving teachers a chance to win a FREE SUBSCRIPTION of Voki Classroom and Voki Presenter! Stay tuned to learn how!

vipulatackk

Ever wonder how other teachers are using Voki? No need to just wonder anymore. Check out the variety of ways Voki is being utilized in Vipula’s Tackk (a fun way to create an informational collage and share about a topic.)

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This presentation (Click on any of the screenshots to get directed to it) shares how teachers can use Voki and Voki Presenter. In fact, the presentation is made with Voki Presenter! It gives tips and pointers to teachers who may not realize the different interesting ways Voki can be used in the classroom.

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Like, if you want to make your Voki speak in a different language (one that Voki doesn’t provide) you must type phonetically!

The use of different languages in the classroom provides language diversity!  Giving students the chance to interact with different languages and accents is a proactive way of having a discussion around different cultures and languages and how to react when you hear a different accent or language. And if you are an ESL teacher, those students who may be nervous about speaking a new language, may feel more comfortable hearing their native language in the classroom and seeing their classmates interact with that language in a positive way.

vipula4

It’s great speaking practice. Students can record their voices and listen to how they sound. They can compare their own voices to Voki voices. For those students that are less prone to participate if they have to speak in front of the entire class, their Voki can speak for them.

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Mr. President kindly points out how to join and explore the Voki communities. Check out lesson plans on our Voki.com  website by clicking on the lesson plans tab at the top of the page, follow us on twitter, search for #VokiRocks to join the conversation, and read, comment, and share our blog posts at The Official Voki Blog. You CAN”T say no to Mr. President!

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Here come your RESOURCE GOODIES! Vipula has created a list of online destinations for you to see what educators are saying about Voki and how they are using it!

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For any beginners out there who are interested in creating a Voki,( C’mon you know you want to!) Vipula has added one of our tutorials to show you how quick, easy, and fun it is to create a talking character all your own.

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And now for the Giveaway!! What do you have to do?

  • Share an idea of how you would use Voki in a certain subject area
  • Share an example
  • Share a short write-up
  • Tweet it at @officialvoki and @vipulasharma1

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Check out Vipula’s Tackk to see the whole Voki presentation and all of the resources she has compiled for her fellow teachers and Voki Lovers!

Thanks, Vipula!

vipula sharma

Vipula Sharma

Bio: Teacher of EAL, Extended Project & KS3-4 Careers Advisor | Tech Coach | a lifelong learner | keen to use technology to support and extend learning for all.

Test Prep: Can It Be Meaningful and Fun?

Test Prep: Can It Be Meaningful and Fun?

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Heather here.  I want to start today’s blog post with that enormous elephant in the room: Test Prep.

Oh,Test Prep. It strikes fear into the heart of students, teachers, and principals alike. It certainly did for me.

Some teachers believe testing is important. Others believe it takes away from authentic learning time. Whatever your beliefs about testing, we have to come to the understanding that, for the time being, these tests are here to stay.

So, what can a teacher do to help his/her students feel confident during the testing months?  One way is to utilize relevant content to teach test sophistication and critical thinking.

What does that look like in a real-world class setting?

Let’s say your first grade class has been learning about animals and their habitats for the past month and you want to know if they can use what they’ve learned and transfer it to an entirely different task.  What you can do is make your test prep questions all about the different habitats you’ve studied. Not only are you teaching meaningful content, but you are also giving them more time to explore the content and possibly acquire additional knowledge on the subject. Yay!

Now, let’s tackle the second problem with Test Prep– its boring factor.

Test Prep is widely recognized as the epitome of boring. Teachers hate teaching it.  Students hate doing it. Nobody wins.

Unless, of course, you can utilize a stimulating and engaging vessel from which to deliver said Test Prep strategies, then maybe, just maybe, your students are in for a treat.

Today I’d like to share with you a presentation (created in Voki Presenter) that I believe is engaging and fun and teaches precise listening skills. The NYSESLAT is an ESL state exam that my students used to take.  So, I used this exam as fodder for my presentation.

First,  I downloaded the NYSESLAT  sampler for grades 1-2.

I picked one question type that I wanted to practice:

L1

And then created my objective based on the strategies I wanted my students to practice and master: Students will practice great listening by scanning the pictures and listening for keywords.Capture I began creating my lesson on Voki Presenter. I made sure to choose an interesting and appropriate Voki so that my students could make a connection with the character. If your students love robots, choose a robot. if your students adore cats, then that’s the character you should choose. I chose an adorable puppy. Let’s call her Lola.puppy

On each slide, Lola guides the students through the lesson. On my second, slide Lola does a “Think Aloud” to show the students how she looks at the pictures and draws a conclusion from what she sees. The students can then easily mimic how Lola uses the pictures to help her narrow down what the keyword might be about.

Listening pg2

Once Lola does her Think Aloud, then Lola and the class listen for the keywords. The question will be repeated twice: Which picture shows a boy using his sense of smell? Which picture shows a boy using his sense of smell?  Lola then launches into a second Think Aloud. Students listen as Lola models her thought process.

listening pg 3

Some students will know the answer right away.  Some will need more practice. Take the time to reveal the answer so students know if they’re headed in the right direction.

listening pg 4

Now it’s time for the students to try it with you. You and Lola will guide them through a parallel listening activity. The topic of this second question should be a relevant topic. This way you are using content that is part of the curriculum they’ve already been learning through out the year.  Maybe in science class they’re learning about the life cycle, or space. Here is where you can infuse those topics into Test Prep questions. Remember, during this slide you (and Lola) are asking open-ended questions to guide the students’ learning.  i.e. What is different about the pictures? What is the same?  What are the boys doing? Guide them through the next three slides.  Do a few  “Turn and Talks.” Ask your students how they knew what the keyword was? Listen in to assess which students seem to be getting it and which aren’t quite there yet.

listening pg5listening pg6

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 After you try one together, create some additional slides with the same kind of listening questions if you feel your students need more guidance. Once you feel they are ready to try some on their own, You can send them back to their desks to try this technique by themselves. Circulate the room and conference with students that you noticed were struggling during the Turn and Talks. Ask students to Think Aloud and ask themselves questions just like Lola did.

Here is the link to this presentation.  Modify as you see fit! I recommend pausing before each slide plays so that you can read the slide and share with your students what they will be doing next.

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=f5aa4bd09c07d8b2f65bad6c7cd3358f

Please comment and tell me what kind of presentations you would like to see.  What topics? Which subjects?

 Let Me Know!

Cheers,

Heather

Heather

Bio: Heather is the Community Manager for Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students!